JunAegileus777: Thank you to all the readers who have stuck with this story. (And to the ones reading it now.) This was probably the fastest time I've ever finished a lengthy project like this one! It certainly won't be my last, either! I'm getting back to work on both Wind Chronicles and MonCor, but I think I'll take my time this time. (I'm never juggling more than three projects ever again!) Back on topic, thank you all so much! I knew I could finish this thing, and I really hope you liked it.
Quick Ref: Intermingling Song - "Suteki da ne?" by Nobuo Uematsu, sung by RIKKI, Final Fantasy X.
Also, it is official: Mephiblis is my second OTP (canon-wise & fanon-wise). Thanks so much, all you readers out there! Here's the final Paradigm!
Sonic the Hedgehog: The Phantasy of Archangelus
• Return Story •
Paradigm Fifty-Three - Wouldn't It Be Wonderful?
DR. EGGMAN'S BASE, ON A BROOKSIDE…
Oddly, it was early morning. Perhaps nearing sunrise, it sounded like the morning greeters were awake. Cuckoos echoed across the deciduous canopies; the early birds were up and at it. Indigoes flooded out of the sky to make room for the gold and pinks coming in. Not too dark anymore, the pre-dawn foresters skulked about.
Freshwater fish were confused by the obstruction in their babbling brook. They didn't pay it too much mind, since they were able to swim around it.
Then, it twitched a little. A finger, or two, didn't seem to be testing the waters or trying to catch them. It was a waking sort of twitch: Again—and again, until it decided to move.
"Kaze ga yoseta kotoba ni
Oyoi da kokoro…
Sonic the Hedgehog pushed himself into a proper sit. "Agh, jeez…what in the world…?" His ears flinched in the directions of the birdcalls. His eyes faced a gilding blue-dark sky. Confused, he looked around for any signs of familiarity. The last thing he remembered was Chaos Control, and a seemingly huge memory gap that fell in between then and now. He held his head. "That Chaos Control was pretty wild…but it felt kinda strange. Wonder what time is it…?"
"Kumo ga hakobu ashita ni…
Hazun da koe…
Up and walking, Sonic wandered around until he came across Dr. Eggman's base. Except no much was there but a caving hole. Its innards exposed, a clean cylindrical hole burrowed through the multiple metal ceilings. So Chaos Control did happened, one puzzle piece was able to tell Sonic. The other, though, was still missing: How far—or short—in time did he go? How did he wind up in the woods? If time and space did move at some point, Sonic didn't know to what extents. And there was no sign of Eggman either, to boot. Maybe he reappeared elsewhere, too?
Not interested in sticking around, Sonic trekked back to the brook he woke up beside. He glanced up and down the tiny banks. Blinking at the downward course, "Maybe this'll lead me to a river…?"
"Tsuki ga yureru kagami ni
The brookside trek continued on forever, it seemed. Sonic didn't feel the need to rush, but just looking at the ever-broadening stream made his mouth water. It was making him hungry too, somehow. "I could go for an extra-chili chili-dog right now…!"
Sonic spotted a junction midstream. It was a tiny niche, like a watering hole made just for him. Too convenient to question, Sonic dipped his hands into it and drank his fill. "Wow! That's good stuff!" While he did this, songbirds perched upon the higher boughs. "That hit the spot! …Huh?"
"Hoshi ga nagare koboreta
Bizarre notes strung together in Sonic's eardrums. He threw his sights toward the trees. He couldn't find the birds making that noise, but when he looked back down, a pink water lily had appeared. It was floating away, out of the niche and into the lake beyond. "Where did…they…? Whoa!"
"Suteki da ne…?
Upon seeing the lone lily find its brethren, Sonic gawked at the ones lining the lake. All around, pink flowers floated and moved like they had minds—and lives—of their own. "Hey, I didn't know this was here! Incredible…!" the Blue Blur awed. "And that big tree in the middle…?" It didn't flower, but there was a mystical air ghosting off it. Its bark and leaves almost looked blue. Sonic blinked. "Huh. Looks cool," he tilted his head a little at the observation.
"Futari te o tori aruketa nara…?
By his feet was a shallow bank. Grainy soil led to the deeper lake bottom. The water lilies there sparkled with fresh dew. A bit timidly, Sonic knelt down, took up a flower, and sniffed it. It had a light, sweet smell. It made his stomach growl; 'I wonder if this thing's edible…?' the thought skated across Sonic's mind. He made a nervous face, biting his lip and blinking rapidly. 'Only one way to find out…!'
After carefully furling it into a ball, Sonic opened his mouth wide to bring the lily to his tongue.
The loudening cry startled Sonic. He swapped his eyes about before turning them upward. "Holy crap!" Someone was falling from the sky. "H-Hey—!"
But before Sonic could throw himself into action mode, the plummeting stranger began to glow and somehow saved himself. A bright bluish-green aura enveloped him, and he flew into a wingless dash toward Sonic. "Hey, watch where you're—Gyah!"
Just past instinct's shield, Sonic caught sight of the flyer's sideway glance. Curiosity piqued both male hedgehogs, as the other apparently was. Right after that split second of wonder, the wingless wonder spiraled up through the canopies.
Kimi no machi ie ude no naka…
A small whirlwind was left in his wake. Spinning wind picked up stray leaves and the lily Sonic was about to taste. It stirred the lakeside lilies out of their paths, as well. Sonic blinked rapidly at the close encounter. The flying stranger had dazzling yellow eyes, a silvery coat, and a weird aura that felt magical. But there had to be some kind of reasonable explanation for why he was falling from the sky, right? How he was able to save himself by suddenly flying back into the air? He'd nearly crashed into Sonic, but the white hedgehog proved himself of good reflexes. For which Sonic was thankful.
Instead of shouting back, Sonic watched the wingless pilot dart out the canopies, hover unsurely over them, and take a sharp left. He blinked again. Wondering if what he'd seen was what he saw at all.
SOMEWHERE OVER A PRAIRIE - Sometime After…
Silver the Hedgehog was lost. Tapping into the planet's magnetic fields wasn't enough; he wasn't directionally lost at all, he was more spatially lost than anything else. "Ugh…! Where is this place? She said to meet her…here? Over that way? Or that way?" He ruffled his quills. "Which way is the 'Mystic Ruins'?" Then sighed a bit hopelessly. He blinked back at the way he'd flown from. "Maybe I should've asked that guy for directions…Is he still there?"
Yoi ni magire…
Just as he was about to fly back, he caught sight of a floating landmass that could've passed for a mini-continent. "Whoa! Hey wait, I think she mentioned a place like that…!" Then with new resolve, Silver nodded and zoomed toward Angel Island. Washes of green rolled underneath him. The occasion zephyr cooled his face. Grinning like a happy child Silver spread his arms out like an airplane, a giddiness making him turn and bank around in the air. 'This place is great, wherever it is!'
Silver caught a flash of black below. Curious, he locked his eyes onto it. But soon realized he'd locked eyes with another person. Gasping a little, he threw his eyes away and picked up speed. An embarrassed flush washed over his face. "Bah! Oh no, I was totally staring, that's so super-rude, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…!" he sputtered, vigorously shaking his head with his hands.
The pilot was making a corkscrew pattern with a streaming cyan afterimage. Unaware of his humiliation, Shadow the Hedgehog ignored him and continued through the prairie.
BACK IN THE FOREST…
Sonic took some time to analyze the lake. The tree in the middle felt sacred, in a weird sense. Almost like it may be housing a fantasized deity that's been sleeping for thousands of years. Perhaps an earth goddess? Or water? Or not even an element, but a state of mind, like tranquility? What would be screamingly obvious was a water lily goddess, though. Especially since more lilies were able to duck underneath its submerged root system. It was an unusual, fanciful endeavor on Sonic's behest.
An immense amount of pink ones skirted about the waterline. They didn't stray too far from the shore. Ones completely detached from their underwater vines greeted and departed, kissed by tapping petals, letting the wind whisk them by as if guided by destiny. As far-out and heavy the notion seemed, Sonic was intrigued. He realized this, and noticed something odd.
"Out of all these flowers, this one"—He pointed to one closest to him.—"that one"—There was another in the distance ahead.—"and that little one"—It was a stationary one, kind of shy-looking somehow.—"are the only ones that didn't bloom. Huh. Weird…wonder why?" He scratched his cheek.
Inquisitive emeralds peered over the waterline once more. Then, in a slow, circular, almost imperceptive gait, a dichotomous duo skated. Strangely, the lilies were pirouetting around each other, reminiscent of a love-laden waltz. Intimate in more than just a sense, Sonic stood and saw that the red one led its blue partner.
Sonic blinked widening eyes. A white one, in the waltz's midst, was rather large. Sonic's bright green eyes wondered about the water lily. If Tails were with him, he could probably name off its taxonomic name, genus, class, all the way up to phylum in one breath. And perhaps even branch off into a botany lesson, if Sonic had asked any further. He could imagine himself waving off the offer.
"There's something peaceful about this place, though," Sonic added to his previous thought trains. "Almost…? Hm?"
Someone was arriving on the other side. Sonic jumped to his feet, both fists in a retaliatory clench. Leery emeralds pinpointed the newcomer's location ahead. A sole figure crossed from behind the submerged tree's trunk. An almost noiseless entrance. The grass blades crumpled. The birdsongs stopped for a briefest pause. Sonic's eyes widened at the sight of Shadow the Hedgehog. A nonchalant turn interlocked Shadow's eyes with Sonic's.
"Whoa! Shadow…how did you—!"
The green Chaos Emerald flashed from within Shadow's palm. With a nimble flick of his wrist, he sent the gem up to hover in front of his face. A few moments passed before a benign "Chaos Control!" caused the air to twitch.
Before the Black Blur vanished.
Keeping himself from reaching out too far, Sonic hesitated a bit. 'Shadow's free? But didn't the GUN want him in Prison Island…?' Suddenly, he smirked a little. Wiping his nose, he snickered. 'Rouge must've caved…she had to. Heh! Attagirl.'
Another breeze carried through the forest. Green leaves and blades stirred, red and bluebirds piped up their plumes and sang louder. It was an unexpected comfort to the blue hedgehog.
Miles Prower went back to tinkering in his workshop. Twirling down from the cockpit of his new land-to-air mobile unit—the Kelvin—the genius fox dabbed sweat from his brow and winked. Despite the early morn arising, Tails was too excited to sleep. Now proud, unafraid, and ecstatic, he ran a few more diagnostic scans before grinning. "Alrighty! Let's test this baby out!" he laughed, still in his nightcap.
"Kaze wa tomari kotoba wa
Knuckles the Echidna had arrived home. Like nothing ever changed, he returned to the Master Emerald's altar and took his usual roost there. Sleep nipped at the edges of his eyeballs. It made his yawn and stretch, then rub them. Nothing made him think he'd been anywhere else; in fact, he assumed he'd gone out to find some fruit, for his midnight snack. Seeing that it took longer than he thought, he merely went back to sleep, trusting the Master Emerald would be fine if he caught a few winks.
"Kumo wa yabure ashita wa
Tooku no koe…
All of a sudden, a heavy hum drummed over the forest. A dawn-lit shadow darkened the lake and the groves surrounding. It caught Sonic's attention surely, for the blue hedgehog swapped his ears and eyes for any physical signs of its identity. Brought upward, Sonic gaped. "What the—? Dr. Eggman!" he snarled, almost by instinct, at the hulking sky fortress that sailed over him.
The lotus trio twitched from the hedgehog's dash. The red and blue's waltz disturbed but unending, and the white's balance made it distinguishable all the more.
"Tsuki ga nijimu kagami o
Hoshi ga yurete koboreta
Silver the Hedgehog had made it to the Mystic Ruins. Although, he hadn't found Blaze yet. The craggy, verdant crater could pass as a missing World Wonder. Its life was undeniably abundant, the plants themselves looked alive. Especially the vine swing he perched himself in. Now kicking his legs back and forth, a fairly colorful and virtuosic parrot came to perch on his arm. He never expected such a friendly and trusting companion. Nature was a true wonder, was what the psychic thought.
"Suteki da ne…?
Shadow the Hedgehog reappeared in a city he'd forgotten the name to. The fleeting darkness of the dawn put him on edge, as he hid in plain sight behind a stilted billboard. He took the sun up into a closing palm.
"Futari te o tori aruketa nara…?
The Chaotix Detectives couldn't watch. Vector had a handkerchief to his crocodile tears, an exceeding guilt washing over him. He and his comrades had tried to explain Rouge's actions, and even confessed to aiding in Shadow's prison break.
But the President's decision was final. Espio could only bow his head in respect. Charmy ranted and raved about the unfairness.
So, Rouge stood before that old work desk. The clean oak shined in the gilding dawn's light. Soon enough, however, she wouldn't need to stand before it anymore. The Presidential crest would no longer greet her for mission completes and rewards. She was going to be tried for treason and conspiracy. The cuffs bracing her wrists and wings looked heavy. But she didn't mind; as long as the Ultimate Lifeform was out of the military's clutches.
"Amy! Amy, look! The sun is saying good morning!"
Amy Rose found Cream and Cheese bouncing up and down on her bed. She was already in the process of waking, from a daydream, when she found the rabbit girl hopping closer to her and snuggling against her lap. Cheese plopped down on her head and pointed out the bedside window. One of the most beauteous sunrises was greeting Amy, after all. The pink hedgehog couldn't help smiling at Cream's cheerfulness and bubbly "See? See?", as her Chao mimicked her.
Kimi no machi ie ude no naka…
A twinge of guilt etched Shadow's features; Rouge's silhouette was leaving him.
"Let's have a dessert-breakfast! Whaddaya say, Cream?" Tomboyish charm made Amy flex a bicep and wink.
Hopping up and down again, Cream clapped her hands as Cheese flew happily around. Cream's happiness was a sight to see. A great sight to behold on such a wonderful morning. 'I wonder if he'll want some, too…?' Amy wondered, wide emeralds blinking out the window.
Asa ni tokeru…
Shadow took off, rocketing from one staggered rooftop to the next. Almost at the same time did Silver take to the sky in search for Blaze again.
"Suteki da ne…
Futari te o tori aruketa nara?
Sonic sped underneath the Egg Fortress, caught up, and made his way atop the starboard deck in a notorious pace. Sonic raced along the Egg Fortress's defense hull. The airship's backside was a platform of doom: Laser cannons and machine guns were desperate to be rid of him. Badniks of various sizes and makes were programmed to attack him. Sonic had to find the Doctor's control room. Surely, it wouldn't be that difficult. Because Sonic was always there to foil the 300-IQ mastermind's plans. Like he promised everyone, and himself, he would.
As he engaged his opponents in retaliation, explosions rattled off with every small victory. A stray laser shot seared an opening through the deck's upper layer. Sonic seized the opportunity and slid into the hole. Where even more offensive measures awaited him.
Kimi no machi ie ude no naka…
His victory came in a flash. Dr. Eggman was there and gone, in said flash. Aggravated by defeat once again, the mad scientist bailed. The entire Fortress was set to self-destruct as a last-resort shot at victory; the warship was already half-destroyed, anyway, so Sonic figured it made sense. Soon, explosions rocked the aircraft en masse. Everything felt like it was moving faster than before: His feet, his heart, time and space. Were the cosmos aligning to the Blue Blur's umpteenth win?
Regardless, Sonic rode the waves. Reflexively, he'd snatched up a long piece of debris and decided to ride the explosions' turbulence. His cocky grin paused, going into a curious frown.
Shadow was already outside the city's limits. And planned to stay out of them.
Silver would finally reunite with his comrade. Her half-smile made her look hopeless for him. His shy "Good morning" wave accompanied his just-as-shy grin.
"Yoi ni magire…"
One last explosion boosted Sonic's kick flip maneuver. Aerial corkscrews maintained his rotating force. The adrenaline rush, Eggman's escape, the Egg Fortress's midair defeat: It all felt familiar, somehow.
A snicker: "Well, it's time to get back to life…!"
The day was beginning again. And Sonic the Hedgehog was already off on a new adventure. Dr. Eggman had become his Number One arch-nemesis once again, and the near-instinctual response to counteract any and every one of his hair-brained schemes kicked in. He'd scored his first victory in what felt like a really long time. And it made him certain that nothing could stop him, now.
Plunging headlong towards the groves below, he aimed his triumphant grin and salute toward the incinerated warship. He winked, ready for another challenge to rear its ugly head. "To the life I'm aware of! Yahoo!"
The submerged tree basked in the lotuses' glory. That red and blue duet still waltzing amidst their white centerpiece. Sonic had vowed to keep that place safe, lovely, never to speak of it to anyone. It was just too mystical to brag about. And so the tree and the lotuses awaited, until the end of time if they so needed, for their guardian to return.